Keesaragutta – My notes and photographs
Keesaragutta is around 40 kms from Hyderabad. From ECIL it is only 10 kms and city buses ply between regularly. This place is famous for two things – (1) For the presence of Sri Ramalingeswara Swamy Temple and (2) for its historical importance since the period from 4th Century AD.
On reaching the temple on the small hillock, one can see many Sivalingams in front of the main gopuram (temple tower), which appear as if scattered all over the place, with signs of vermilion marks and flowers scattered around them which indicate that these Sivalangams are revered by the devotees and pujas (devotional rites in Hindu way) are daily performed. The reasons for this we can find in the sthala purana pertaining to this place.
The legend has it that Lord Sri Rama, after his victory over Ravana, king of Lanka and by birth a Brahman, wanted atonement from the sin of killing a Brahman, by installing a Sivalingam. For this purpose he selected this beautiful place and ordered his ardent disciple Hanuman to bring a Sivalangam from Varanasi. Due to some unknown reasons, Hanuman could not arrive within the destined time with the Sivalangam from Varanasi which worries Lord Rama. However, as the auspicious hour approached, seeing Lord Rama worry over this, Lord Siva appears before Him and presents a Sivalangam for installation. Delighted, Lord Rama promptly gets the Sivalangam installed there by the destined auspicious hour. The Sivalangam in the temple is therefore called Svayambhu (born on its own), considered by many as Lord Siva’s own replica.
Hanuman, however, returns with 101 Shivalimgams from Varanasi. His intention in bringing these many Shivalingams was to give Lord Sri Rama an opportunity to select the one He liked best amongst the lot. But after knowing what had happened by then, Hanuman grieves that his entire exercise had gone futile and throws the 101 Shivalangams he brings from Varanasi all over the place. As Hanuman is the dearest to Lord Rama’s heart, He also feels pained at this and as a kind of solace ordains that precedence would be given to him for worship in the temple. He also says that the hillock where the Svyambhu Shivalingam was installed would bear Hanuman’s name in it; thus the name Kesarigiri came into existence i.e., Hanuman, the son of Kesari. As time went by, in colloquial use the name got a bit corrupted and became the present form Keesaragutta.
Barely a kilometer away from the temple, which can be reached by a leasurely walk, there is the excavation site of Archeological Survey of India, which links it to the period of 4th and 5th Centuries AD – a period when the place and the sorruounding part of the country was under the rule of the kings of Vishnukundin dynasty. As per history, Keesara was the capital of Vishnukudin kings….Madhavarma II was the greatest of them all, who performed eleven Aswamedhas and his kingdom at one point of time extended upto the Narmada river on north.
As it so happens in many such instances, a chance encounter by a laborer in the early 1980s while digging the land for a government construction, brought into light the simple looking but magnificent ruins which consisted of basements of rectangular brick structures of that period which have three/five cells and a spacious veranda.
The surroundings and the present day condition of these remains, however, give an impression that they need good upkeep and maintenance.
It so happened that I had no conventional camera with me when I visited this place a few months back. The mobile with 3.2 mega-pixel lens I had with me came in handy and the photographs exhibited here were all taken with that mobile camera.